Monday, November 08, 2010


Seems like this is a bad year for just about everything, at least for the wildies around here, though many of the civilizedies aren't doing all that well either. I was out looking for free wild food this morning in the form of mukago, which are ready at around this time of year, but it seems like the yamaimo offspring have suffered the same fate as acorns. In my searches I found a final total of might as well be zero, barely a few pitiable tiny pea-sized things hanging forlorn on the long yamaimo vines tracing through the bamboo and forest-edge undergrowth.

In good years I easily score handfuls of the minipotatoes from among the wild yamaimo leaves as I go along the roads and wade into the bamboo. Even if I'm not thinking of mukago I am reminded by those lush pennants of bright yellow heart-shaped leaves vining up and across the bamboo and low bushes, draping themselves from one plant tip to another, eventually creating a yamaimo leaf canopy that gets most of the sun and rain and in autumn yields the best crop, those on the tall bamboo stalks silhouetting their tasty wealth against the sky: air tubers that can reach the size of a large macadamia nut.

It's all academic at this point, though, cause this year, even in the best of my secret places there were lots of golden leaves but no treasure to throw into the pot before the rice cooks. They were even scarcer than acorns, which both the bears and the wild pigs like, but the mukago are a special treat for the latter, because after strong winds the minitubers fall to the ground among the bamboo warrens where the pigs nose about and bears do not go; this year, though, there is rampant mukago notness on top of severe acorn notness, so among the gruffly marauding bears there will be some grumpy widely foraging pigs out there, as though either group needed competition...

In the same vein, took a morning walk to visit the pond yesterday, and on the way passed the old wild persimmon tree whose autumn branches every year appear about to break from the weight of the fruit, so I always feel duty-bound to grab a few pocketfuls - especially before the monkeys get them - but this year there were only a half dozen or so persimmons on the whole tree; I've never seen a wild tree looking so unfulfilled at the peak of its career.

Then over at the pond I saw on the sloping bank countless places where a number of wild pigs had nosed up the soil in search of earthworms and any other natural slow food they could find, but from the immense number of nosings I'd judge that the wild porkers must have had to hustle to finish all that work before dawn, so it appears they didn't have much success, and unlike me they don't have a well-stocked winter pantry, so this may be quite a hungry winter for the local wildies.

Both of those hungry parties are welcome to my chestnuts and compost pile, as long as they dine at night. Casual dress, no fighting, and stay away from those onions.


steveb said...

Funny, we had a bumper crop of mukago this year in the upper reaches of the Tama River in the Kai Chichibu National Park. Ever since you posted a picture of huge basket of mukago in a past blog entry, we have been trying to match your bounty, and this was the first year we came close. Wishing you luck for a return to your usual cornucopia next year.

Robert Brady said...

Thanks, Steve, glad to see the mukago are still bountiful somewhere... Maybe next year here! In the meantime, savor your tasty treasure!